Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Phils Day Off – Epistomology

The main difference between this Day and the Metaphysics Day, is that for this one, I had an inkling of an idea for what I could do. I still didn’t have any particular goal, unless you would say that “seeing what conclusions I make” would count as a goal.

My actual activity? I played Dungeons and Dragons (D&D). This applies to my topic because of an interesting part of the role playing aspect in D&D, called “In-Character Knowledge”. Essentially, I was playing a Monk who has grown up in isolation, who knows nothing of the outside world besides what he’s read inside of some ancient scriptures he’s found. The interesting part, was how I as the player, had to distinguish what I know and what my character would know; playing a character with such a steep learning curve was extremely interesting when you consider the origin of knowledge, and how much people know without realizing it.

My character acted almost as a moral compass for the group; they were all hardcore adventurers, ruthless fighters who all had one main objective: money. Now, my character? Money was a foreign concept to me, and I knew nothing about it. But I knew that killing a defenseless person was wrong, even though he was hired by our enemy to kill us.

View post on imgur.com

My friend Rita’s depiction of my character being given a flower by a small child (because I’m the moral compass of the group)^

What was interesting, is how in my absence of common sense, I felt the need to possess such a strong character; I was wise, without knowledge, which goes against what we agreed upon in class (which was information < knowledge < understanding < wisdom). This makes me believe that there are multiple kinds of wisdom; the inherent, human kind, and the kind that comes with understanding. My character had the former, because he had a general respect for life in a way that animals don’t.

I still want a definitive answer to my question: how /are/ ideas formed?

Overall, I’m a lot happier with how this “Day Off” went; not only because I had a good time, but because I feel I was actually doing something related to my idea, instead of just working.



Phil’s Day Off at McDonalds

Phil’s Day Off was a unique occasion, and I’m not quite sure if I enjoyed it or not.

On one hand, it was an assignment I’m going to get marked on for doing nothing out of my normal routine, yet it got me thinking about my work in a sense that I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with.

Essentially, my activity took place at McDonalds. To be honest, I wasn’t thinking much of it when I started, but late on Sunday, I realized I needed something to take to class the next day that was ready to discuss. The only thing I had done all weekend, was work; so I thought about what could relate to my topic at work;  however, there’s not much related to art at McDonalds, so I broadened my search.

At McDonalds, part of my job as a Crew Trainer is to complete observation checklists about my coworkers, and give them feedback based on what they’re doing well, what they could be doing better, etc. and it was interesting to see how out of the three that I did over the weekend, there was a vast difference in the procedural correctness and enthusiasm when interacting with customers. All three workers were making the same amount of money, yet two were working hard, and one wanted to do nothing but pull out her phone. It got me thinking about what motivates people: is it just hardwired in some people’s brains that “working hard is good, so I’ll work hard,”?

I’m curious to know how motivation works, and why certain methods work for some people and not for others. Is there an objective desire to please in some people? Are they working for the possibility of getting promoted? And if so, what is the difference between working hard for a long term reward vs a short term reward?

During this whole shenanigan, I shaped my identity through my job; I know I haven’t worked at McDonalds for very long, but I feel I’ve become a McDonalds worker. It’s an extremely significant part of my life now, and I love my job!



Epistemology isn’t a very good Wing Man (Discussion Post – William Cassidy)

One thing I was a little bit disappointed about this discussion was that there was a lack of time to discuss our own topics; yes, there was an interesting diversity in the topics that we discussed, and the encouragement of talking to new people is always appreciated, but I felt like the discussions didn’t help me advance my meditations of my topic very much.

There was one question that I was eager to discuss with people: if ideas only come into existence when we think of them, would the idea cease to exist entirely? What would happen to it?

So in our little speed dating thing, I talked with a number of people, about numerous topics

I talked to Alejandro about his overall idea, about how knowledge is spread through little ripple effects. Someone creates an idea, and shares it with 5 people. These 5 people tell 5 other people, then 25 people know. 25 people tell 5 people, 125 know, etc. etc. and soon the idea is common knowledge. He also discussed how opening your mind is the first step to knowledge, as well as ignorance. I didn’t quite understand this part, but he seemed like he knew what he was talking about, so I’ll give him that 😛

Adam and I talked with a somewhat more relevant topic; we talked about the origin of knowledge, and how wisdom comes from understanding comes from knowledge comes from information; and he brought up an interesting point: can any idea come from our minds without some sort of precedent? Everything we think of has been filtered through our own human bias; so in the same way that I touched on in the Metaphysics unit, nothing can be original in the same way that nothing can be objective. It also directly tied into my reading, but didn’t serve to answer anything. The originality of the idea doesn’t influence the location where it comes from, whether it’s the cesspool or self generated.

To touch on the “wisdom comes from understanding comes from knowledge comes from information” thing, to be quite frank, it’s true. Information is everywhere in the world outside of your mind; it’s the observers job to make that information into knowledge. Now, depending on the quality of the information, your knowledge will lead to greater degrees of understanding the topic, and the same applies for wisdom.

All in all, it wasn’t /too/ productive, but I made of it what I could. I got the great idea from Adam, and discussed with others about the origins of knowledge and heard some great ideas, and opened my eyes more than I think a topic specific discussion would have done.

Also, because the topics were so diverse, it was easier to stay on track 🙂



Objectivity Within Art (Discussion)

In my last post, I discussed the importance of appeal within art, as well as subjectivity vs objectivity. We discussed how there is no such thing as objectivity in art, and how art is based upon subjective appeal. A piece of art is good if a lot of people like it.

What it seems to me, is that what is considered “objectively good” is merely what is seen as subjectively appealing to a mass variety of people, by appealing to subconscious factors. This process has been streamlined over the course of humanity, and what has been considered good has changed depending on the technology available to us, and morals of society.

For example, take ballet. There are certain forms that a ballerina has to practice, and certain moves that are used repeatedly in various ballets. A ballerina can always be judged on how they manage to keep their toes pointed;  the “perfect” ballerina is judged off of criteria that has been refined over the last 500 years. But this principle of refining what makes an objectively good ballerina, defies the very definition of objectivity.

“relating to or existing as an object of thought without consideration of independent existence” – Merriam-Webster

This means that objective is not the correct word to describe the circumstance that we have, and one question that stumped our group was an appropriate term for what we decided couldn’t be objective.

I brought up how it’s kind of like Math (demonstrating my ability to think creatively and critically) ; constantly being tested and revised to show what we believe to be true, which led me to the term “formulaically” good; I know the term has its downsides (like modern art, there’s nothing aesthetic or pleasing about it, yet it’s still a thing).

The main question I still have, is “Is objectivity possible?” Because how can something be free of human bias, when all we know is through our perceptions of things? Technically speaking, nothing exists outside of how we perceive it, meaning it can’t exist without us considering it; creating a direct oxymoron.



Would you like an Idea with that?

  • Knowledge is inevitable
  • Knowledge is the result of the human ability to learn
  • Knowledge does not reside on a physical plane

There are a two main arguments for what ideas are, and where they come from: independently created by creative minds, or that “ideas do exist outside of space and time, and we grasp them via a special faculty of intuition”

In my article, these possibilities are discussed in a rather interesting way, with more than a little skeptical semantics through the writing.

It entertains the possibility of independent ideas through a rather bizarre idea, that doesn’t quite work the way it was meant to.

If John and Sarah both came to the conclusion that Jessica would make a great president at different times without influence of each other, the idea would have been conceived at two independent moments, and that “we seem committed to ideas as entities that exist independently of particular acts in which we thinking of them, and even of collections of such acts”. It’s bizarre in the way that this could argue for the other side as well, and the fact that they came to the same conclusion was mere coincidence.

After its laughable attempt to convince the reader of its idea, it moves on and discusses some interesting ideas; it relates this idea conundrum to both numbers an colour. If my car is red, where is the line between the redness of the car and the car itself? Is redness not some universal entity? And where should such an entity exist if it did? And how would something interact with it, in order to become red? “And how do particular red things partake of redness?” And finally, and possibly most importantly, did redness exist as a universal quality to obtain before an observer was there to experience it? If it’s some universal entity, where did it originate from?

“But now [the author is] getting long on hunches and short on details. Suffice it to say that, in[the authors view] at least, [the] very good question is still unsettled and unsettling.” It’s impossible to answer the answer, because the only definitive proof we will ever have, is if we somehow manage to observe that giant cesspool of ideas; however, if there is no such thing, we will never have proof for or against this idea, meaning we may never know.



Appeal vs. Objective Quality

The topic for my question started with consciousness: “How do we think?” I after many hours spent trying to find an article related to my topic, I realized that my question was more of a psychological question than philosophical. I decided to switch my topic to something more inclined to exist; Descartes First Philosophy was in a way related to my question, so I figured I would change my question to “What can we know?” However, I quickly got bored with this topic. In class, we spent much time discussing Descartes and his first Philosophy, and it had little fascination left for me. After all that, I still didn’t know what my question was.
Sitting in class, I was on my phone, scrolling through google to see if I could get any type of inspiration for another topic. My peers were sitting beside me, pestering me for an opinion. I kept trying to shut them out, because I had work to get done. Slowly, I allowed my concentration to waver, and I entered a quite one sided argument about the quality of art, and objectivity’s relationship to aesthetics, and that’s how I stumbled on to my question: What is more important, Objectivity, or Subjectivity?

Schelling defines philosophy of art as a “construction of art”. Philosophical construction means for him “presentation in the absolute.
At this epoch “absolute” signifies for Schelling the unconditioned identity of subjectivity and objectivity that constitutes knowledge
as such. Hence the title “identity philosophy” stands for the systematic unveiling of this identity in each and every object of knowledge.

The basis of my article, is how a different article failed to count in most pieces of art when discussing aesthetics; from what I understand, the author means to counter this, and say that it’s more important to regard subjectivity in relation to /every/ art piece when considering aesthetics.

During our group discussion, the main concept that was being discussed was “Is art objectively good or bad?”

During this discussion, Dom was adamant with his argument:

There are curriculum’s based around different Arts,

Curriculum’s have content in them

There are ways you can be taught to improve your art

Therefore, there are basic techniques that can be used that create good Art

From this, we can see that Dom is more of a believer in objectiveness in Art; that there are certain qualities a piece of Art can have that improves its quality. One idea that he presented that no one could completely refute, was that when one creates a movie, it’s typically a good thing to have good acting, pacing, music, etc. and that the better these qualities are, on average, the better the movie. However, Matthew and Brian weren’t so sold on this point.

Mr. Jackson presented the strongest argument we managed to come up with: The Eagles are widely considered to be an incredible group of musicians, and are heralded as a world class band. However, Mr. Jackson thinks they are terrible; what creates the difference?
The first conclusion that comes to my mind, is that there can be no objectivity in art. Objectivity is based around something having a lack of human bias; how can something which has its central idea of subjective appeal be objective? It’s a direct contradiction. Sorry, Dom!

The main question I have, is: how can Dom’s argument make sense? There are Art courses, that people can take in order to improve as an artist, but how can someone teach how to subjectively appeal to a mass group of people?




The Earth is Flat – William Cassidy

Famous rapper B.O.B. has recently been stirring up controversy, with his sudden lack of confidence in the Earth being round.

In the caption of this rather unflattering photo, he tweets “where is the curve? please explain this”. Logically speaking, round objects have curved sides. Our pal Bobby notices a hole in this: if the Earth is round, why can we not see a curve between the two cities?

By this logic, we can strive to understand his argument is something along these lines:

Flat objects have no curve. 

A line has to be either flat or curved.

The line between the two cities has no curve.

Therefore, the Earth is flat.

Let’s take a look at the specifics of this. First of all, is the argument valid?
Validity means that the form of the argument is phrased in a way that means if the premises are true, then the conclusion has to be true as well. Logically speaking, if a line doesn’t have a curve to it, it’s straight (or, flat). The picture above would serve to prove that the surface of the Earth has no curve, which means it would have to be flat. But in order for the argument to be sound, the premises must be true.

However, because of his large following, this argument of his gained a lot of popularity, especially considering the Earth being flat is such a debated (for some reason) topic. It gained enough popularity to attract the attention of famous Physicist Niel Degrasse Tyson, who used this entire scheme as a way to educate the general public by appearing on Larry Wilson’s “Nightly Show”.

“It’s a fundamental fact of Calculus and non-Euclidean geometry [that] small sections of large curved surfaces will always look flat to little creatures that crawl upon it,” said Tyson. Applying this principle to the previously supplied argument, we can say that the third premises is not true; the line only appears to have no curve, as the point of view from the camera taking the photo is too small to properly comprehend the size of the Earth, and by extension the angle of the curve of the surface.

So yea! We successfully determined that B.O.B.’s argument is indeed valid, but false, and therefore not sound. Tune in next week for more Philosophical Phun!